• A 3-Step Process for Naming a Project/Product (And Some Resources)

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    Naming a project is always an awful experience.

    An earworm that won’t stop tapping your skull from the inside. A tenacious pop jingle with teeth and a paycheck.

    As a freelance designer, I do a fair amount of this for clients. Generally, my process has been a garble of notes and trips to thesaurus.com, but lately I’ve noticed a fairly simple pattern emerging, a 3-step framework for cutting through the fog.

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    3-Step Process
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    Step 1.
    Identify the feeling you want the brand to convey. A great brand communicates on an emotional wavelength, so make that feeling your bedrock.

    One way to identify what feeling you’re pursuing is by figuring out what you’re not. A great brand is defined as much by what it is as by what it is not. So if you’re entering a certain market that is a certain way, identify that point of frustration and invert it. For instance, if your market is confusing, you could pursue ‘Relaxed', or ‘Lucid'.

    Step 2.
    Embody that feeling in a list of persons, places, things or phrases (etc) that communicate viscerally. For instance:
    Relaxed = a picnic
    Exclusive = Studio 54
    Cool = Paul Newman

    Step 3. Final
    Identify a detail that represents the [embodiment] of [your feeling] in a non obvious but compelling way.
    Relaxed = a picnic = Sunny Nap™
    Exclusive = Studio 54 = Velvet™
    Cool = Paul Newman = Ben Quick™ (a character he played)

    New insights gained from the process should help you get a better handle on the unique feeling or value your brand has to offer.

    the name should have a ‘special wrongness’* to it. An unforgettable newness. A new shape. 1+1=3. If your name lacks this, the product itself may have a hard time differentiating itself in whatever market you’re entering. Why are you different than your competitors? That difference should be reflected in the brain jam your name causes in its audience.

    *"Special Wrongness” is a term I’ve stolen and adopted from Peter Mendelsund from this amazing interview: http://portersquarebooksblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/interview-with-peter-m...

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    As for credentials, here are some of the things I’ve named:

    Svpply (snobby social shopping)
    Varsity Bookmarking (link-based interview magazine)
    10,000 (TBA athletic apparel)
    General Projects (design studio)
    Work Of (maker community and store)
    Mined (TBA digital marketplace)
    Lookwork (visual RSS for professionals)
    Lunch League (foodie clothing line)
    Embrella Group (design consultancy)

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    Some of my favorite brand names of all time, the ones I aspire to matching, have the appearance of having emerged from this kind of process. Names like:

    Hunter Gatherer AKA HUGA
    Dress Code
    The Quiet Life
    Public School
    Free People
    Girl Skateboards

    These names emerge from the fringe of their vibe. Familiar details that've been blown out larger than life.

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    Pretty Good Tools & Resources
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    http://www.Phrasefinder.co.uk — A robust database of slogans, phrases, idioms and such. Annual fee for this one.

    http://Rhymezone.com — Rhymezone is great for finding rhymes, but even moreso, it’s great for a feature it calls “related search”. Like a drunk cousin reading the dictionary, it often yields connections you wouldn’t see elsewhere.

    http://Thesaurus.com - Yep.

    http://Niice.co — Visual search engine. Good for non-linear, non-verbal associations. and its “Surprise Me!” button is great for knocking you out of a loop.

    http://iwantmyname.com - I use this for domain name searches because it has the most comprehensive list of TLD results that I’ve found.

    http://domai.nr - Domainr will cut your name up into chunks and tell you if there’s any odd domain combos available. Think: de.licio.us or days.am

    USPTO Trademark search - Once you’ve landed on a name, you’ll want to check for existing trademarks in your product’s space.
    USA: http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/
    UK: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/tmtext.htm

    USPTO class list - When doing a trademark search, you’ll want to know your product’s class so you can tell if you're rubbing elbows with a trademark holder.

    Don’t Call it That!: A Naming Workbook - Folks I trust have recommended this book.

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    That's all I've got.

    I hope it's helpful.

    If you do wind up with any success because of this, I'd love to hear about it. myfirst@lastname.com or @pieratt

  • The Egotist Reviews the Super Bowl

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    Here in Oklahoma, we like go freaking crazy over football, but even Oakies were reaching for the chips & dip during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game. The most entertaining thing this superbowl was undoubtedly the commercials & Bruno Mars. While we'll leave your opinions of Bruno's golden jacket up to you, we've partnered up with The San Francisco Egotist, The London Egotist, and The Minneapolis Egotist to bring you our thoughts on who won Sunday.

    Budweiser – Puppy Love

    SF: Come on. You’ve got puppies, horses and beer. Who doesn’t love those three? Yes, it’s taking the easy road and the creatives didn’t have to say a single thing about the product, but this is a spot your mom will be talking about.

    LONDON: Budweiser and their Clydesdale horses are the closest thing a US brand has to genuine heritage. So they wheel them out every year to remind us. Even us Brits are starting to get that. But who's the target here? Beer-swilling jocks or soccer moms? This is so saccharine, it's making us gag. Does it position Bud to the ladies as the beer of choice for the sensitive wife-beater?

    NY: We’re Budweiser. We love puppies, and the men and women of the U.S.
 Military, and patriotism, and ‘Murica, and whoever else might want to get drunk and make out with twins after playing Arnold in a game of whatever.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Conceptually and creatively this is an absolutely terrible spot; but, it pulled at the heart strings of middle America. (We know because we live here.) The brief must of said, "Make Midwest mom fall in love with Bud."

    TULSA: A great example of something that 'just works'. Terrible No concept, but as soon as we were turning to make fun of it, we saw our mother-in-laws & wives welling up with tears.


    Bud Light – Up For Whatever

    SF: This wouldn’t be the first time Bud Light has spend a shitload of money on something that won’t sell any more beer. But this is probably the most expensive time.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Hilarious. The teaser certainly had our Super Bowl party guessing and the copy line pay off at the end made this spot one of the front runners of the night for us. We were surprised to see something we like from the often "safe" Budweiser brand.

    TULSA: Don Cheadle with a lama. Anytime you work that into a live sequence, you've got our vote.


    Budweiser – A Hero's Welcome

    SFIt wouldn’t be a Super Bowl without a Bud spot pandering to our troops. It’s great you support our armed forces. A Super Bowl commercial isn’t the place to brag about it.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Again, like the Puppy Love spot, this one was clearly intended to pull at the heart strings and nothing more; however, it was considerably better because of the real event, the authentic reactions, and the longer form video online.

    TULSA: We don't feel comfortable bashing such an authentic well done piece, but maybe that's the point. It's a winner by virtue of the fact you'd be un-American if you hated it even if it had nothing to do with drinking beer.


    Maserati – Now We Strike

    SF: Um… huh?

    NY: Maserati just lost to Jaguar worse than the Broncos lost to the Seahawks.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Although serious spots often get talked over at every Super Bowl party, we did enjoy the craft of this spot and, when viewed in silence after, it does have a nice bit of power to the pay off.

    TULSA: Well produced, certainly unordinary, had us on the edge of our seats and left us cheering when the game couldn't, and we haven't thought about driving a Maserati in years. Well done.


    Audi – Doberhuahua

    SF: Funny. Original. Well produced. Tied to a consumer benefit. People will remember this one.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We have to say that this is the clear front runner of the night on our end. Weird, funny, and great production value. Not only is it funny; but, it had a clear pay off and connection to the product.

    NY: A crazy dog? You’ve got our attention. Now what was it you weren’t willing to compromise on? We missed that part.

    TULSA: Wow. We're not who they're thinking their target market is, but surely they've missed them. Although we appreciate the risk they took with the Sarah Mclachlan bit, it still left us thinking the commercial was for pest control, not a luxury german vehicle.


    Axe – Make Love Not War

    SF: Where’s the juvenile humor? Where’s the hot, barely legal chicks? We’ve got to say, this was refreshingly mature for Axe.

    NY: Axe used to be for douche bags. Now Axe is for sensitive douche bags.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We loved this spot. Axe has become so formulaic that they've become completely forgettable. They have to switch up like Old Spice to stay fresh and they've done it in a dramatically, cool new way.

    TULSA: Wow. That ad didn't smell like a junior high boys lockerroom. It's new for axe, and we'd like to see a whole lot more of it.


    Beats – Goldilocks with Ellen

    SF: After a campaign starring Kevin Garnett, Collin Kaepernick and Richard Sherman that’s as intense as you get, throwing Ellen in a Goldilocks spot just seems like pandering. Oh yeah, and it was terrible.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Not as funny as we were hoping a spot starring Ellen would be and as a result it wasn't very memorable. However, they did clearly communicate the benefit of the product. The question is, will anyone remember it since the ad wasn't that terribly memorable?

    NY: Good use of Ellen, but not as good as her American Express spot.

    TULSA: If Ellen would have written and directed the spot it would have been much better, but now, we're thinking ofcancelling our contracts with AT&T.


    Butterfinger – Therapy

    SF: Horrible. Not funny. In fact, if we weren’t so drunk by the time this spot came on, we may have thrown something heavy at the TV.

    MINNEAPOLIS: One of our least favorite ads of the night. It had a fun concept; but, such bad execution from the actors and editing that it didn't come off that terribly funny to us. We are curious to hear what our readers thought though.

    TULSA: Liked the butterfinger dude a lot, but that's about it.


    Carmax – Slow Clap

    SF: Holy shit, someone got paid to make this?

    LONDON: The idea was that it had a twin commercial featuring puppies. It implied there was a puppy Superbowl. Is that true? What happened to the Lingerie-Bowl? So, while the puppy version was a bit of fun, the main ad was just a bit part player. Slow claps, we get that - kudos for going to CarMax - but no reasons to believe, just clapping.

    MINNEAPOLIS: There were a few moments in this spot that felt funny; but, we were so focused on who was going to clap next that we forget what they were marketing by the end of the spot.

    TULSA: Hell no.

    NY: The claps are slow. Just like the spot.


    Cheerios – Gracie

    SF: In 2014, this inter-racial spot should not be news. It should merely be a cute commercial and nothing more.

    NY: D’awwwww… interracial marriage. D’awwww… more puppies. Next.

    MINNEAPOLIS: As we've posted about previously, this spot is memorable not for the content of the spot itself; but, because a middle America corporation had the balls to stand up for what they believed in when faced with clear bigotry. They get a standing slow clap from us. (Maybe the Carmax ad was clapping for this?)

    TULSA: That girl's getting that Mazerati for her 16th, daddy better start saving up.


    Chevy – Romance

    SF: We almost wrote this spot off as another boring Chevy spot. But the end made us, and all the people at our party laugh. So consider this one a win.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We were surprised to see Chevrolet make a truly funny spot that felt current. Nice work. Maybe they're improving their spots?

    NY: Bull pimps drive Chevy trucks.

    TULSA: Right up our alley. This spot bleeds masculinity, but has a really nice touch at the end.


    Chevy – Cancer Day

    SF: Way to co-opt cancer to sell a truck. We’ve hit an all-time low.

    NY: Get it? They’re on the road?

    MINNEAPOLIS: We spoke to soon. Now the same company is using cancer to sell trucks and created a poorly done ad to do it.

    TULSA: Touching. Next.


    Chobani – Ransacked

    SF: This one was a good idea… when it was explained to us. Everyone at our party looked around and asked what the hell Chobani was.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Fun work and good pay off. By this time though our party kept asking what was up with all of the brown bears in ads this year?

    NY: Bears are jerks. At least they didn’t sap it up with puppies.

    TULSA: With that concept, it coulda been better. Still good.


    Chrysler – Dylan

    SF: Bob Dylan – Car Salesman. An entire generation just got kicked in the balls.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We were surprised to see Bob Dylan "sell out" for a car ad. Yet, we were even more surprised to see such a powerful figure make the least powerful of the iconic Super Bowl spots that Chrysler has become known for. Def a good spot; but, after the "Imported from Detroit" and "Second Half" spots (which set an impossibly high bar) we expected a bit more.

    TULSA: If Chrysler can sell Bob Dylan on making a car commercial, they should be able to sell us on a car in two minutes. It isn't a terrible spot, but it isn't awesome, and for $4 million + Bob Dylan, it needs to be awesome.


    Coke - Going All The Way

    SF: As we said last week, this one missed so many details, it seems like the people who wrote it had never even seen a football game. The whole payoff was just so… obvious.

    MINNEAPOLIS: A cute spot; but, a bit confusing when he keeps running and running and running. They should of cut it down a bit and got to the pay off quicker.

    NY: Not the greatest Super Bowl spot we’ve ever seen, but cute. We like it.

    LONDON: All football and no Coke. Just felt schmaltzy and lazy. A pack shot with puppies and some tinkly piano would have done the same job.

    TULSA: Not coke, not unique.


    Coke – America is Beautiful

    SF: Just singing a patriotic song and showing some pictures of diverse people does not a concept make and does not a soda sell.

    NY: Heartwarming. Sentimental. Corny, but Coke can get away with it.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We love the idea behind this spot of showing the beauty in the diversity of our country; but, we don't think the production value, editing, or final product in general really paid it off. By the end it felt almost like we were looking at a well done stock video site.

    TULSA: Now this is coke. Right on brand, this is the stuff.


    Doritos – Time Machine

    SF: Eh. Kind of entertaining. But honestly, we just saw this ad 3 minutes ago and couldn’t tell you the connection to Doritos at all.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Loved it. A funny amateur spot.

    NY: Time Machine –

    This was funny. Like just about every other Doritos commercial we’ve ever seen. At least they’ve got the common courtesy to try and be original with
 each spot.

    TULSA: In line with what Doritos does. Original, but not very connected to the product. At least it didn't turn out to be an Audi commercial.


    GoDaddy - Quitter

    SF: We had high hopes for this one. Seemed like an original concept that had potential. But the payoff went nowhere. We had no idea who she was, what job she was quitting or why. Big miss.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We LOVED the teaser for this ad and this was the one we were very excitedly looking forward to seeing; however, the pay off felt very bland. Maybe because it felt so staged and the woman had a soft smile while quitting through a puppet? If this person was overjoyed, more authentic, or had just the tiniest smidge of bitterness it could of come off so much cooler and memorable.

    TULSA: GoDaddy is on track for winning, maybe aquiring Media Temple changed them. Everyone at our party was talking about this one, even though they have no idea what GoDaddy is.


    GoDaddy – Spray Tan

    SF: After years of ripping GoDaddy’s sophomoric spots, we have to cheer this one. Funny stuff that communicated a real benefit for small businesses.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Loved it. We have to admit though that many people at our party didn't get it because they didn't know what GoDaddy actually did or that the audience was meant to infer that it was the spray tan owner's website that got the stampede of body builders to her shop. If they had added a quick shot of her website going up, this spot would of been golden

    NY: We hear GoDaddy’s grown up so we’re expecting… heyyyyyy… all they’ve done is replace naked chicks with naked dudes.

    TULSA: ...and we're back, the GoDaddy we're more familiar with.


    H&M – Beckham

    SF: Every single woman - and ok, we’ll admit it, every single guy – stopped what they were doing to watch this. Now it’s halftime and people are still talking about it. That means it was good, right?

    MINNEAPOLIS: An attractive, famous, half-naked man running around in his fashion underwear. Yes, people stopped and watched. And yes, many women, and some men, will remember this and rewatch it later...

    TULSA: H&M got a contract with David Beckham and boy did they use him, they're getting every penny's worth out of that one.


    Heinz – If You’re Happy and You Know It.

    SF: Oh good god. It's their first foray into Super Bowl advertising in 16 years and Heinz Ketchup does a spot with humming, incorrect ketchup application and a fart joke with an old lady.

    NY: Reminded us of a Coke commercial. Pretty sure that was the brief.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Our team hated this ad because it was going after the lowest hanging fruit of an idea. Yet, we have to admit that our party got a huge laugh from this and talked about it throughout a few ad breaks. So it probably was a winner and as much as we don't like admitting it.

    TULSA: We get it, it's nothing special, we've seen the 'humming alongside product shots' thing before. We loved it, thought it captivated some of our most familiar association with Heinz, and didn't mind the fart humor at the end. Clear, memorable, to the point, just wish that was Betty White at the end.


    Honda – Bruce Willis

    SF: Client: “So we’ve got Bruce Willis and Fred Armisen signed up… figure out something to do.”

    NY: They should’ve kept zooming out and shown more celebs hugging. Expensive, but it’s a Super Bowl commercial. Blow that shit out, yo.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Funny. It's always a challenge to find a funny, memorable way to talk about safety and Honda did it. Our party especially loved the use of their hashtag #HugFest.

    TULSA: Somehow managed to combine touching, funny, memorable and safety ratings all into one. Well done Bruce.


    Hyundai – Nice

    SF: We’ve rewatched this 4 times and still have no idea what the point was.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We think we might be missing something in this spot. We have to say it is among the worst because we aren't quite sure what they are trying to say.

    NY: Nice rhyming. Nice spot.

    TULSA: With MN on this one, whaaaa?


    Hyundai – Dad’s 6th Sense

    SF: Our favorite spot of the Super Bowl so far. Funny from start to finish with a great, clear benefit.

    NY: Last year it was refreshing to see dad as a good guy. This year, we’re happy to say it’s just a normal thing.

    LONDON: This was the best of the lot. No superstars, no exotic locations, no spending dollars just to make a splash, this had a genuine idea in it - and as such, stood out from the rest. The way they captured near-misses so convincingly was as impressive as the insight. But then the other Hyundai commercial (Elantra: "Nice") was shit. That did have an actor we recognized but the only ideas we could spot were having words that rhymed and a hashtag. Gotta have a hashtag.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We love that the ad was effective in communicating the cool new technology of the vehicle and in pulling at the heart strings a bit by playing off of the father son bond. Yet, there wasn't a laugh out loud or "ahhhh" moment for us. Not extremely memorable except for the car's cool new tech (which probably isn't a bad thing).

    TULSA: This is our favorite. Finally something with great concept, and even better execution. They captured those 'near accidents' better than we could have ever imagined in a pitch meeting.


    Jaguar – Rendezvous

    SF: Big budget, amazingly well-produced spot that sets up a fun idea for Jaguar – It’s good to be bad. We liked it.

    NY: Are the bad guys always played by Brits? We don’t care. Great spot. Good branding by an otherwise stodgy car company.

    LONDON: Good heavens. An idea! Maybe were pre-disposed to like this one but it had real insight, wit, style and actors that can act. An enjoyable romp. A truth well told.

    MINNEAPOLIS: There is some great production value to this spot and there is a fun idea to the ad; but, we couldn't help wondering if using the image of snooty, full-of-themselves British men would sell an American on buying one of their cars.

    TULSA: Even though they drove it back home, and it's much better hearing a brit say "Jag-uar" than an American, we still think the large scale production value of this one overshadowed the concept.


    Jeep – Built Free

    SF: This spot would have been much better without the disclaimers on the bottom saying “Do Not Attempt.”

    MINNEAPOLIS: We thought this ad was ok. It felt like they were mashing up the work of Jeep's old stuff by W+K and the Levi's "Frontier" campaign in this spot; but, something about it felt really flat in spite of the fact that they were trying to be philosophical.

    NY: No real idea? Write your way out.

    TULSA: Flat. Besides, where's the Cash song?


    Kia – The Truth

    SF: When the best pop culture reference you can muster is a movie from 1999, you probably should have kept concepting.

    NY: Nothing says cutting edge like referencing a 90’s sci-fi movie.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Man, this is really dated. We love the Matrix; but, talk about creating an ad that the new generation has no idea what you are talking about. After all, this movie is about 15 years old.

    LONDON: Wow - Laurence Fishburne looks 'healthy'. Why's he playing Morpheous 11 years after the last film in the Matrix franchise? What's the Matrix got to do with anything? And how huge was their budget? Is it a tax-avoidance thing?

    TULSA: Woulda been great 15 years ago, which is why my dad loved it.


    M&M – Kidnapped

    SF: Really? You created an elaborate teaser campaign for a horrible joke about getting put on ice cream?

    MINNEAPOLIS: The teaser and payoff were cute and funny; but, as always with M&M they weren't very "laugh out loud."

    NY: Unexpected. Made us laugh. That’s what we like on Super Bowl Sunday.

    TULSA: They weren't able to snipe Loki for a bad guy from the Jaguar people, but still made a pretty nice spot.


    Microsoft – Empowering

    SF: We were all set to mock another crappy Microsoft ad. But… da

    Minneapolis. This was good. And human. And emotional.

    NY: Who loves our troops more? Budweiser? Or Microsoft?

    MINNEAPOLIS: Although it is mostly just a mashup of found footage, we really liked where they took this spot and the feeling that it left you with.

    TULSA: Touched our human side from a company & field that feels quite un-human, and detached. Well done.


    Oikos (Dannon) – The Spill

    SF: Creatives: “So here’s the idea – we get together the cast of Full House to make a blow-job joke.”

    Client: “Approved!”

    MINNEAPOLIS: We still can't believe this is real. We almost always love sex humor; but, this spot, that had heavy handed innuendos of blow jobs mashed up with the warm, nostalgic feelings of "Full House," felt awkward and weird.

    NY: John Stamos is getting a little over the hill to be a lead.

    TULSA: Love the concept, woulda been better with no-name actors, but still well done. Felt weird laughing at innuendos that include Full House at a superbowl party.


    Soda Stream – Scarlett Johansen

    SF: If you enjoy ScarJo giving 25% effort and being fake sexy, you might have liked this spot. If you don't enjoy lame jokes about going "viral" and punch lines that don't punch, you probably hit the john when this one came on.

    LONDON: Soda stream ran out of budget and ideas when they signed up Scarlett Johansson. No one's come out of this well - least of all the viewer.

    NY: Whoa. So hotttt. We’re all rushing out to get a Soda Stream right now. We just hope there’s still some left. Just kidding.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We thought this ad was suppose to be banned until we realized that they removed the reference to Coke and Pepsi at the end of the spot. With that removed, what is the point of this spot again?

    TULSA: GoDaddy?


    SquareSpace – A Better Web Awaits

    SF: This does not make us like Squarespace. This makes us not want to sleep at night.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We enjoyed this spot; but, it might be because our team loves Squarespace. What do you think?

    NY: Looks like this was a fun shoot to do casting for. If we were the target audience, we’d consider Squarespace for our website. But we’re not in the market.

    TULSA: Go Squarespace! Great company, great ad, who knew they had enough spare cash to be up there with the big dogs in the Superbowl?


    T-Mobile – No Contract, No Problem

    SF: This is the best thing Tim Tebow has ever done within the course of a football game.

    NY: Way to use the NFL’s most popular benchwarmer in a Super Bowl spot.

    TULSA: yes. loved it. Exceptional talent that sold that one.


    T-Mobile – Still No Contract

    SF: We take that back – THIS is the best thing Tebow has ever done. Who knew he could be so funny on purpose? This is one of our favorite spots of the whole game.

    MINNEAPOLIS: Like a few spots tonight we liked the idea behind the spot; but, the execution was off and it was devoid of laugh out loud moments.

    TULSA: Yes. We're switching contracts. It's all because of Tebow.


    Toyota – No Room for Boring

    SF: The title of this spot is the most ironic thing we saw all game… other than “Peyton Manning, MVP.”

    MINNEAPOLIS: Any spot with Animal is a spot we like. That is all.

    LONDON: We love The Muppets. We like Terry Crews (we only know him from the Old Spice ads). We don't mind Toyota. But what does any one have to do with the other? Car crash.

    NY: We dig the Muppets crossover. Cute. Family friendly. Terry Crews though. Where’d he come from?

    TULSA: If you aren't a Muppets fan, this isn't for you, and if you aren't a Terry Crews fan, that was a pretty painful 1:03. For most people though, it did the job.


    Turbo Tax – Prom

    SF: WTF was that?

    NY: It’s amazing what some good copywriting can do. Great spot. Best writing of the night.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We loved the storytelling in this spot and the strong tie to the Super Bowl; but, the connection back to the product was tenuous at best.

    TULSA: With SF on this one, WTF?


    VW – Wings

    SF: Fun, memorable, and a clever way to tie in the 100,000 mile claim. This one should do well in the post-SB polling.

    MINNEAPOLIS: We loved the idea behind this spot; but, it isn't truly laugh out loud funny until the last few seconds. Hell it was the man's reaction as the rainbow shot out of his butt. This ad proves that casting the right talent really does still count.

    NY: We like the wings. The wings are funny.

    London: Well conceived and fantastically executed. Wit, craft and a great way to deliver a potentially dull message - our cars run and run.

    TULSA: Well done VW, now if only your cars did run well after 100k.


    Pistachios – Colbert

    SF: Colbert made these spots somewhat palatable. But he’s still not getting us to buy nuts.

    NY: Forgettable first spot. Wonderful second spot. Overall? Meh.

    MINNEAPOLIS: The first ad felt a bit bland especially considering the fact that it was starring Stephen Colbert; but, the awesome media buy and the pay off of the second ad made this one of the front running spots for us. Who doesn't love seeing Colbert crack open his own head?

    TULSA: First ad needed more substance, but we didn't forget the second ad, and loved how they played in sequence

  • From Printing Press to Pixels

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    Originally posted on Atomicdust's blog
    as, "Web Development Brings Design to Life".

    Until a few months ago, I spent all of my time in a print shop. To be specific, it was a letterpress and screen-printing shop, where we still mixed inks by hand, set type, etched metal plates with acid and carved wooden blocks. We printed most of our work one sheet of paper at a time, or on 70-year-old automatic presses that required constant attention and mechanical adjustment. It was one of those jobs that people would talk to me about all the time. “I had an uncle who worked on old presses,” or “I did a little printing when I was in college,” were common things to hear in a conversation about the shop. People understood the basics of running a print shop and making prints.

    I eventually came to the conclusion that printing wasn’t what I wanted to do. The daily requirements of the job just became boring. When I finally decided to move on, I became a web developer here at Atomicdust.

    When it comes to talking about my job now, the situation is very different. The questions I am asked now are, “What’s a developer?” or “So, wait, what do you actually do?” I figured out pretty quickly that when people ask this, they are not asking about coding. If I start telling them about that part of the job, they get bored really fast.

    They want to know what is at the core of my job. Essentially, what makes someone a good developer?

    For me, the truest answer to these questions is, “The job I do now is exactly the same one I did in the print shop.” The core of my job is to find the most elegant and efficient way to bring a project from design to final product.

    In the print shop, the problem was how to create a perfect set of final prints. I chose the proper paper, set the pressure, adjusted the presses and mixed ink so that the final prints would reinforce the concept and look of the design. If I chose the wrong paper, perhaps a handmade paper when a machine-made paper would be more appropriate, the final prints would look completely wrong. The prints might look rustic and varied instead of slick and precise, undermining the original design.

    Now, as a developer, my problem is how to create a perfect website. I choose the proper coding methods and languages, set up the framework for the site and style it so that when it goes live, its function reinforces the concept and look the designers have created. If I choose the wrong framework, it may be too difficult to update or impossible to incorporate social media. If the concepts behind the design are speed and adaptability, the chosen framework will undermine the entire project.

    Although the specifics have changed, the backbone of each job is the same: creative problem-solving that serves concept and design. What makes someone good at each is the ability to see a project from design to final product without losing any of the importance of the design, but instead, reinforcing it.

    - - -

    Steven Brien graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BFA in printmaking and shortly thereafter founded All Along Press with his fiancée, Elysia. Steven and Elysia still do custom letterpress and printmaking, but Steven scratches his web development itch at Atomicdust.

    When he’s not pedaling around St. Louis, making websites or print pieces, Steven can be found working on mopeds, building robots and tapping into his New Orleans roots.

  • Using Your Brain as a Designer

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    Originally posted on Atomicdust's blog.

    “I really like it.”

    Probably one of the most important things I learned in design school, and subsequently in the working world, is that “liking” a design is not sufficient enough. That’s what separates art and design; art is subjective, design is communicative. It’s also, like Atomicdust Creative Director Mike Spakowski often says, disposable. Design always has new trends and technology always has new devices. The only thing that seems to have any longevity is the content behind them.

    It makes sense then to design around the message. After all, the purpose of any design is to remove obstacles and make it easier for people to understand a specific message. I am as guilty as any designer when it comes to getting swept up in the romance of making something look cool, but here are some things that help me keep a focus on the real purpose of what I’m making:

    1. Understand What You’re Trying to Say

    It’s surprisingly difficult to communicate something, when you don’t know what that something is. It’s your job to be a translator of sorts, explaining broad ideas and feelings in simple visual terms so you should probably know what those broad ideas and feelings are.

    2. Focus Group of One

    Chances are the people you are talking to are actually people. And what luck, you’re a person too. Test your design on yourself. Would you really read that chunk of text in the corner? Does that button actually make you want to click it? Does this piece of marketing accurately communicate the right message?

    3. Be as Genuine as You Can

    There’s a lot of marketing in the world and we’re bombarded with it every day. Subsequently we’re starting to automatically rate things as believable or unbelievable and that determines to what we’ll give the time of day. Avoid making outrageous claims, or implying that stock image perfection is exactly what you’re selling. Where does your design piece rank on the believable scale?

    4. Now, Make it Cool

    You’ve got the basics of the message, it’s a functional piece, and your tone is believable. Here’s your chance to flex (within reason) your design skills. Half the fun of being a designer is creating something that communicates a message and makes people say, “I really like it.”

    - - -

    Beth Porter joined Atomicdust as a design intern in 2011 and has been designing there ever since.

  • Toronto Edition: In 20 Words or Less What's Your Creative Philosophy

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    In 20 words or less, what's your creative philosophy? What a great question that surely would generate some very creative responses. The SF Egotist first took to asking San Francisco based creatives that very question, the response was a wonderful glimpse into the thought process of some very talented creatives.

    We decided to take the very same question to Toronto creatives, in 20 words or less, what's your creative philosophy? What they shared gives us a look into the thought process of some extremely talented individuals. Take a look - tell us what you think and if you have a creative philosophy of your own share it in the comments.

    "Love what you sell.
    Then be honest with yourself about
    the human emotion why you love it (greed, lust, etc). "

    - Kevin Drew Davis
    Chief Creative Officer at DDB Canada

    "Don't be bitter.
    - Andrew Simon
    Chief Creative Officer at Cundari Advertising

    "Exhaust all possibilities when you create and craft.
    There’s no worse feeling than, in hindsight,
    wishing you’d done things differently."

    - Allen Oke
    Executive Creative Director at TBWA\Toronto

    "Read everything. You'll find what you need when you need it.
    Travel everywhere.
    It's a great punch in the perspective."

    - Barb Williams R.G.D.
    Creative Director at RAPP Toronto

    "2 litres of magic,
    1 cup of cultural tension,
    1 cup execution."

    - Carlos Moreno
    SVP, Executive Creative Director at BBDO Toronto

    "Put energy into work that you believe in;
    find collaborators to vibe with,
    then believe in those people over product."

    - Kai Exos
    Executive Creative Director at SPOKE Agency

    “If you throw someone ten tennis balls,
    they’ll likely be able to catch only one.
    Throw one. Make it count.”

    - Fabio Orlando
    Chief Creative at Tag Idea Revolution

    "Spend weeks researching, experimenting,
    agonizing over an idea...
    then tell everyone it just popped into your head."

    - Jordan Foster
    Creative Director / Partner at six01

    "If the brief can't be
    Delivered in haiku form
    The suits must go back."
    - Suzanne Pope
    SVP, Creative Director at Sudler & Hennessey

    "Think with the mindset of a consumer
    and create
    with the imagination of a child."

    - Gary Watson
    Executive Creative Director at Capital C

    "Make sure your work has a pulse,
    and always remember,
    lions don't lose sleepover the opinions of sheep."

    - Anthony Wolch
    Executive Creative Director at Entrinsic

    "Simplify the complicated."
    - The Toronto Egotist

  • When Brand Building Becomes Personal

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    Jared Dunten is a lot of things. Copywriter. Artist. Father. Husband. Paraplegic. Fighter. That last one probably should have come first.

    In 2000, Jared dove into the Rio Grande, on the Texas/Mexico border. He woke up days later in a hospital 400 miles away. He’d broken his neck and injured his spinal cord.

    Doctors said he’d be lucky to breathe on his own again. Walking? Best to forget about that. But the doctors underestimated him.

    In the 13 years since the accident, Jared has been fighting his way back, starting with breathing on his own. Then months of rehabilitation. He returned to Austin, resumed his job as a copywriter at GSD&M. Became an accomplished painter using only his mouth. Got married. Had twins.

    All the while he’s been fighting paralysis, and fighting the notion that he and others with spinal chord injuries will never walk again.

    He’s become an advocate and activist by doing what he knows best – building brands – taking the skills he learned in the advertising world and applying them to his fight. He started with Will Walk www.willwalk.org, a foundation which uses art and film to create awareness about paralysis.

    And he’s not doing it alone. He’s pulling in people from other areas of the industry to help him create and promote this “brand.” The Butler Bros., Marty and Adam, are longtime friends of Jared. They both had large-agency gigs but left ten years ago to explore more innovative ways to tell brand stories. www.thebutlerbros.com

    They’ve applied their unique approach to a film that uses Jared’s story to encourage people to be more vocal about spinal injury research. See the trailer here: http://bbros.co/willwalk

  • Strategizing is for Prom Queens

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    I hear the word “strategy” thrown on just about everything. Like rhinestones on a South-Texas-prom-queen’s dress, “strategy” is too often a cheap and easy bedazzle on everything from PowerPoint slides, to someone’s superfluous commentary in a meeting that is already running too long with too many attendees. Anymore, in my day-to-day, Strategy is quite the loose little buzzword.

    Often, it is a noun, as in “brand strategy” or “I am a strategist." Sometimes it is an adjective, as in “strategic vision” or “strategic insights." Also, as an adverb, such as “strategically developed” or “strategically placed.” And let's not forget it as a verb, as in “strategize” (which for the record, makes me want to punch the speaker in the nose every time I hear it).

    And that isn’t to say that I don’t use the word often myself. But I used to accept the word at what I believed was its face value — a sense of something great and purposeful. A sense that when I heard “strategy” — I knew we were talking about the key to winning whatever was at stake, the secret sauce critical to achieving the mission. I knew we’d be talking about something tangible, and most importantly — something actionable. (Strategy is, by definition, a military term that, in a nutshell, means using your brains and your guts to not only stack the odds in your favor, but empower you to make the right decisions when confronted with any obstacle.)

    Now, given the bedazzling trend, I’ve made it my personal charge to pay much closer attention when the word “strategy” is presented. Analyzing it quietly in my head, from every angle. Challenging my own application of it constantly. Because the real disturbing trend, is not that the word gets overused, but rather that the very concept of strategy has become a crutch. A well disguised excuse NOT to act. An exercise in lengthy requirements-gathering to plan for problems and scenarios that don’t yet exist. A perceived need to create a long list of tasks for what should happen in the future, when instead we should be driving for real feedback via iterative launches in the present. I see terms like “strategic goals” and “strategic vision” plastered across PowerPoint slides, and the actual bullet points associated with most of these goals and visions, amount to little more than minute tactics positioned as passive options to explore. Presented in the context of “we are working on,” or “working toward,” or “think there is great opportunity within this area.”

    And with that lack of conviction, certainty, drive — fucking nothing can be won. It’s all a lot of bling with very little bang.

    So here is what I'm really driving at — let's all of us in the industry be more thoughtful with strategy. That when creating, executing, presenting or thinking about strategy in any context, let’s be critical of ourselves, of our interpretation of strategy and when/how/why it matters or is applied. As an example, do we sometimes create formality where it isn’t warranted — like laboring over a “social media strategy,” when maybe all we really need is to just be social? Or when our strategy feels like it is a moving target, and people struggle with how to articulate it — should we check our premises? Are there assumptions at play that have been driving a weak, obtuse strategy? And if the goals are ill-defined, then no amount of “strategic planning” is going to get us anywhere, even if we wrap that anemic goal in a shiny label called “strategic vision.”

    Diamonds are a girl's best friend for a reason — because they have real value. The real, lasts-for-a-100-years-and-cut-glass kind of value. Fortunately, making sure your strategy has actual value is really pretty simple — just ask yourself, is your strategy something your team can:

    • Articulate without a slide in front of them?
    • Apply in any given situation?
    • Execute against to deliver desired results?
    • Feel empowered and confident in so doing?

    This piece is cross-posted from The BRAT Blog from The Aha Method — a company that coaches teams around a better working dynamic.

  • "5 Paths To Doing Great Work At A Terrible Company" - Brian Millar

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    Here is an excerpt from "5 Paths To Doing Great Work At A Terrible Company." an article originally published on FastCo Design. We've had to take down this post in its entirety. Read the full thing here - we promise its worth the click-through.

    Here are his five steps:





  • How to Spend $275 Million in 48 Minutes: Three Super Bowl Ad Trends for 2013

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    Want to watch $275 Million get spent in 48 minutes? Just tune into CBS at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to see one of America's greatest primetime displays of violence, debauchery and poor impulse control. And I'm not talking about the Super Bowl…

    I'm talking about the Super Bowl ads.

    In all seriousness, these days it's no surprise that independent research year after year continues to show that over half of U.S adult viewers plan to watch the Super Bowl as much, or more, for the ads than for the game itself. In fact, social listening measurement findings suggested that in 2012 64% of respondents said that half or more of their conversations online with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials themselves.

    With the average investment of $4 Million on the line for a 30-second spot, it's no wonder why the CMOs of many of these advertisers are looking to squeeze their investment for every penny.

    There are three standout trends that have continued to proliferate the Super Bowl ad space for the last several years (and by all accounts will continue even more in 2013).

    01. Online Ad Preview and Teasers

    Online Ad Previews and Teasers are becoming more of the norm. VW made the most famous splash last year with its Star Wars parodies that received over 56 Million hits after allwas said and done, largely in part to the pre-release of the spotson YouTube.

    This year's early winner goes to the Kate Upton Mercedes spot, which in one week gained over 5 Million views (and counting).

    Humbling news as, by this author's account, this is one of the more ridiculously off-brand spots I've ever seen. Given the fact that the CLA won't even be available for the next 7 months, the brand needs lasting impression and awareness. Regardless of the substance, it's clear that Mercedes knows the value of online traction and will do whatever it takes, no matter how low-brow, to get an early lead among its rivals.

    Regarding the idea of Super Bowl teasers, the concept is simple,but the debate still rages on about whether or not the big reveal should be saved for the big game. While we don't promote a "one size fits all" approach to advertising, and I'm sure there are errors to the rule, it's hard to argue with the facts. Mashable reports, "According to YouTube's research, ads that ran online before the Super Bowl last year got 9 Million views, on average. Those that waited? 1.3 Million." With, on average, three times as many views online over broadcast, many could argue that the real winner in all of this is actually YouTube.

    02. Ads for Social Democracy

    Ads by social democracy are becoming more common in 2013. While Doritos pioneered the concept with their user-generated ads in the past few years, this year we are seeing a greater variety of the concept. For instance, one of the biggest brands in the world, Budweiser, has finally launched a Twitter account in its name. The brand, which had a little more than 600 followers Monday morning, is using the account to promote its upcoming Super Bowl ad, which will feature a Clydesdale foal via their Twitter hashtag campaign. Pepsi is also using their site and Twitterto recruit some of their fans to strike a pose with their can before their half-time show.

    But, the big pre-game winners in 2013 seem to be the "choose your own adventure" style ads from Audi and Coke. In what Audi says is a Super Bowl first, they recorded separate endings for their "Prom Night"commercial, and are compiling social votes where the audience chooses the ending. Coke created cokechase.comto tease their spots by highlighting three different sets of teams who are all racing to win a giant coke in the desert. The team with the most votes online will get their spot aired right after the game.


    03. Second Screen

    This year, more viewers than ever will be watching on a second screen. Now in real-time, technology allows brands to engage with the viewing public on their mobile phone or tablet during the event. For instance, Yahoo's Into_Now pioneered app technology that augments the second screen experience by using the unique audio digital signature in a television show topickup, and serve up, content directly related to that show. CBS estimates ad revenue alone from their second screen engagement to be between $10-$12 Million. Being able to interact with stats,player bios, team formations, highlights and social aspects is an essential part of any second screen approach for the sports enthusiast.

    Regardless of all of the hype, a few certainties remain. The Super Bowl represents one of the highest risk: reward ratios in advertising. Because of this, marketers are getting smarter by using not only the right tools, but also the right content to get the consumer's attention. Disintermediation is taking effect and the consumer is finally starting to see large-scale control of and connection with their favorite brands. As our society gets more social and mobile, so does the advertising.

    Needless to say, as an advertiser, I am thankful for the Super Bowl. If not for any other time during the year - the Super Bowl gives us an annual magnified window into the progress of advertising. With so much attention to the commercials, it almost makes me feel sorry for the guys on the field.


    Originally posted on the Rodgers Townsend blog.

  • The school of life.

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    Yesterday a reader asked us "how do you get into advertising?", our knee jerk reaction was to ship them off to the nearest ad school for a year or so.

    Then they told us more about their experiences to date and what a fascinating life they had lived. And as all of us forget from time to time, education is just a base foundation, life is what moulds you into an interesting creative person, ultimately making you more employable than the next guy or gal.

    This trending video from Mondo Endruo below seemed an appropriate fit for this editorial.

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